Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Visit to ThamesReach Martha Jones House

This morning I went on a visit to Martha Jones House, which is a 50 bed high needs hostel in Vauxhall, run by Thamesreach, a London based charity helping homeless and vulnerable people. I had been invited with my fellow Deputy Mayor (Tower Hamlets not Newham), Cllr Rachel Blake (see photo top middle).

Martha Jones House, is an impressive, purpose built hostel, just over a year old. I once went to a UNISON branch meeting in the nearby old hostel a few years ago and Martha Jones is much better.

We had a tour of the building and spoke to residents and staff about the facility and what they offer. Many of the residents are former rough sleepers who are referred by assessments centres. All must have a Lambeth "local connection". The hostel is supported financially by Lambeth Council. What I found particularly impressive is that they have no absolute "exclusion" policy and will potentially accept residents with the most challenging needs or behaviour. Residents are normally expected to stay for a maximum of 9 months.

After the tour we had a really useful and constructive "brain storming" session with staff about homelessness, rough sleeping, temporary and permanent accommodation. What do charities such as Thamesreach want local authorities to do and what can charities do to assist local authorities?

My takeaway from this is as well as specialist hostel provision you need effective floating support in suitable permanent accommodation is get people off the streets.

Adequate funding is also essential. You cannot deal with rough sleeping on the cheap.

Many thanks to Thamesreach Chief Executive, Bill Tidnam, Catherine Parsons, Director of Operations (the fantastic manager of the hostel, whose name I have rudely forgotten) and to residents C and N for their insights. 

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